Let’s face it, when you are buying second hand it pays to be cautious and to look for faults that the buyer may not have declared. I have no problem with this, although I do try to be as honest as I can when selling anything. What I do have a problem with are undisclosed problems that would be dangerous, but which would be impossible to find on any inspection without both prior knowledge of what to look for, and disassembly of the item being bought.
Old and new sprockets from the Funduro. The gearbox output shaft should be a good fit in the splines shown on the new sprocket on the right. Instead its splines wore quickly to almost non existence.
If you have read my last two motorcycle related posts here, you will have followed the tale of me buying and fixing up an old 1994 BMW F650 Funduro for winter transport. You will also have read of the numerous faults that these bikes are afflicted with and the ones that I suffered. I have no doubt that if BMW had produced a car that had the number of major faults that these bikes have, that they would have had to recall to apply some fixes. No vehicle with 30, 000 miles or so on it should suffer this many design defects.
When initially fixing the bike for use I fitted a new drive chain and sprockets. I did notice that the engine drive sprocket was a loose fit on the gearbox output shaft, but there was little that I could do about this, and since I had never in 35 years or so of motorcycling heard of a catastrophic failure of these parts, I left it and rode on. What I should have realised was that with the case hardening already worn on the gearbox shaft (a surface hardening process), that the shaft would wear increasingly fast from that point onwards. Only a few thousand miles later, the potentially lethal fault that I described in the last piece left me needing to either repair the bike or find new transport.
I have rebuilt many engines over the years, so initially I planned to fix the bike. I bought a replacement gearbox which had the modified shaft with a nut and tab washer to retain the front sprocket, a new gasket set and all the other paraphernalia needed to do the job, Unfortunately life was busy back then, and my lack of a bike for transport meant I was spending a lot more time travelling to work each day, so the Funduro languished, unloved at the back of my garage for a few months until I finally had to admit to myself that I simply did not have time to fix it.
Since I would not even contemplate selling the bike to someone who in time would certainly experience the same catastrophic problem, the ad I placed explicitly described the bike as for spares or repair only, and gave a detailed description of the problem and what was needed to make the bike useable and safe again. All the spare parts were sold with it. When the buyer came to view the bike, I went through the fault again with him to try to ensure that there could be no doubt that this was dangerous to the point of being lethal. The text of the sales receipt that I got him to sign (see below), reinforced this still further. As you can see, and given that it came with about £300 worth of parts, the bike was priced to allow for the time needed to repair it.
“Paid £650 in payment for BMW F650 Registration no: NCZ5448. I understand that the bike is sold as ‘spares or repair’ only, and that the gearbox shaft holding the front drive chain sprocket is in a dangerous condition. I further understand that the bike should not be ridden until this shaft has been replaced.”
The text from the sales receipt.
It turns out that the buyer (or/and his son) was actually a regular bike dealer. It reappeared on Gumtree in short order, in very shiny condition, but without having its real problems fixed. There was no mention any dangerous fault in the ad, and the parts had disappeared, presumably to be sold separately to increase the profit they made. Really? Is someone else’s life and limbs worth only a few hundred quid of profit? I complained about the ad to Gumtree, and placed my own ad to warn any potential buyer of the problem. The dealer it seems still had my mobile number, and a long and very vitriolic tirade of text messages from him was my reward. The ad was taken down, but I’m sure that he managed to shift the bike somewhere else. I felt so responsible for this, I even went to the local police station to show them both his tirade and the evidence of the worn and dangerous fault. All I was asking was for them to have a word in his ear so that he would fix the bike before selling it, or at least warn any new owner that a repair was needed. You would think they would be interested in preventing a road accident, particularly one where some poor fool was likely to leave a lot of skin and blood on the road. I have kept the record card they gave me of my report just in case, but it was the police who told me ‘Buyer Beware’. It seems it is OK to kill someone in the name of profit. Given that many bikes sit in their owners garages and are rarely used, my best hope is that the bike is now owned by a ‘collector’ or some sunny day rider who will never use it in anger. God, I hope so!